In what was expected to be a rebuilding season for the Vancouver Canucks, it looks like they may be ahead of schedule as 19-year-old Elias Pettersson has been an absolute revelation. Through five games, Pettersson has five goals and eight points, leading the Canucks to second in the Pacific Division.
Against the Florida Panthers on Saturday, however, Pettersson was forced to leave after taking a hit from Mike Matheson into the boards. Predictably, Canucks coach Travis Green wasn’t happy, and the NHL does intend to review the hit.
For obvious reasons, the NHL has placed a greater focus on player safety in recent years, and the league has shifted away from grinders and especially dangerous hits. Pettersson, who is listed at all of 176 lbs, would seem especially vulnerable to dirty plays.
However, Matheson’s hit didn’t lead to a fight with any of the Canucks, and while some fans had wanted to see retaliation for the play, Green explained to reporters including Patrick Johnston from The Province that he didn’t want his team to risk two points in the standings with a 3-2 lead late in the game.
“You’ve got to show composure when you’re in a game. It’s a 3-2 hockey game. There’s 12 minutes left. You’re talking about a guy that has one fight in his career. I don’t think he’s known as a dirty player. You’re in a hockey game, you don’t just go start chasing guys around the rink.” —Travis Green
The Canucks don’t play the Panthers again until next year in a mid-Jaunary game, so we’ll see if they’ll target Matheson then. Meanwhlie, results from the league’s review of the play will obviously come sooner, as will news on Pettersson’s status moving forward.
During less troubled times in Vancouver before the Matheson hit, the Canucks were challenged to pronounce Pettersson’s name. North Americans, watch out — it isn’t as easy as it looks!